Yezidis and Palestinians

Hawkeye: My father warned me about you…

Cora Munro: [interupting] Your Father?

Hawkeye: Chingachgook, he warned me about people like you.

Cora Munro: Oh, did he?

Hawkeye: He said “Do not try to understand them.”

Cora Munro: What?

Hawkeye: Yes, and, “do not try to make them understand you. That is because they are a breed apart and make no sense.”

The Last of the Mohicans (Movie) 1992.

As an Indigenous person I really do struggle to understand what passes for political dialog in this country. While I long ago gave up on network news programs to provide me with any sort of unbiased analysis of world events, I do try to stay abreast of presentations of U.S. foreign policy.

That being said, I found myself perplexed today by the U.S. response to the plight of the Yezidis people in Iraq as they are attacked by ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). As the situation exists thousands of Yezidis have fled their homes in the city of Shingal to the surrounding mountains. The Yezidis are a minority religious sect in Iraq that are considered apostate by the fundamentalist Muslims of ISIS.

ISIS surrounds the refugees, seeks to prevent their access to food and water, and is threatening them with extermination. As ISIS battles to establish an Islamic State in the territory captured by them, groups like the Yezidis are not seen by them as a part of that building theocracy.

I find myself in total agreement with an effort to rescue this trapped population and to see them returned to a restored homeland. What has me confused is not the necessity of intervention but how the political talking heads can ignore the elephant in the room… Gaza.

In Gaza is a captive population that has been deemed by Israel as not part of a Jewish State. While a New York Times opinion piece today proclaims, “It is unconscionable in this day and age that the United States should not act to save minorities in Iraq from certain genocide,” there were few if any similar calls for the people of Gaza.

While there was no threat of immediate death for the Palestinians from the Israel military beyond the casualties from the current military incursion, the slow strangle hold of Israeli occupation has been no less deadly. Food, water, medical supplies, building materials, and freedom of movement have been severely restricted since the Gaza occupation began and will continue till the blockade is ever lifted by Israel.

Supporters of Israeli apartheid will immediately defer to the defense against rockets fired by Hamas. While I have no way of knowing for sure, my thought is that if the Yezidis had rockets they would be firing them at ISIS. The battle of a people under subjugation, a people whose homes and lands have been seized, a people whose faith puts them outside of an established or establishing theocracy has traditionally been called resistance and not terrorism.

The correlation between the two conflict seem obvious to me so I remained confused that it is not part of presentations of these esteemed political commentators that are currently explaining to me these events. Perhaps Hawkeye is correct, perhaps I should stop trying to understand them and admit that we are different people who will never view the world through the same lens.

T. Mayheart Dardar was born in the Houma Indian settlement below Golden Meadow, Louisiana. He served for sixteen years on the United Houma Nation Tribal Council (retired in Oct. 2009). Currently he works with Bayou Healers, a community based group advocating for the needs of coastal Indigenous communities in south Louisiana. Read other articles by T. Mayheart Dardar, or visit T. Mayheart Dardar's website.